Reading for Tuesday, Feb. 7: Romans 6
This is one of my favorite chapters in Scripture. Paul addresses some common human assumptions re: sin and grace. He takes on permissiveness: Is it better to sin so that grace may increase? By no means! (verses 1-2) Later, he argues the same reasoning re: the Law — should we go on sinning because we’re under grace, not the Law? Again, by no means! Paul makes his appeal by pointing to the risen Jesus. Christ’s resurrection validates His victory over death (v9). But it’s not just that He conquered death; his death brings down the power of sin once and for all (v10). For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus diminishes the hold sin has on us. Therefore, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (v18).
I love the contrast of v11: dead to sin, but alive to God. The imagery of baptism declares the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the primary story of our lives. In baptism, we submit ourselves to the will of another, trusting them to take us under and bring us up out of the waters. This is a beautiful demonstration of the spiritual immersion that occurs simultaneously: in faith, we submit our whole selves to God, trusting Him to put to death the old person, trusting Him to raise us as transformed and redeemed. All of this is so we “may live a new life (v4)”. This new life is what Paul declares in v11 — a life fully alive to God.
Although Paul can be pretty abstract and theoretical in Romans, all of his theological insight is focused here: on making these believers more aware of the life God has called them to. We might say, Paul is most interested in God’s people being more fully alive to God. In order to do that, sin must be dealt with. And Paul will have much more to say about that in the coming chapters.